If Moore’s Law says that the speed of computer hardware in general doubles every 18 months, when it comes to advances in mobile technology, it’s more like every 18 minutes, said Michael Gartenberg, a partner with Altimeter Group, opening up the first session at our paidContent Mobile conference.
Some of the rapid change is revolving around social networking and location-based services, all of which is helping blur the lines between business and personal, Gartenberg noted. While acknowledging the growth of Foursquare, he’s decided to abandon the service after too many complaints about constant reminders that he’s “the mayor of the bagel shop.” Gartenberg also compared Foursquare to an annoying girlfriend he had in college: “Foursquare asks a lot and gives little in return. I had a girlfriend in college who always wanted to know where I was. That’s kind of like what Foursquare felt to me.” But for most people, Gartenberg is certain that the service — or ones like it — isn’t a fad and is only going to gain in popularity.
In terms of features like those of Foursquare that fit in to the mobile experience, Gartenberg has a “hierarchy of mobile needs.” In order, they are: commerce, content creation, critique (reviews, tweeting), entertainment (more and more video is becoming available), reference and communication (calling, e-mail, texting).
Underlying all these needs is trust and security. “We’ve found that most people don’t put a password on your device. Your phone will get lost or broken at one point. What’s the value of your phone? $500? I was recently asked to turn in my iPhone at an Intel (NSDQ: INTC) conference. I was asked to put down what the value of the phone. I put down $1.2 million. They asked if I was insane. I said that that phone itself was only worth a few hundred dollars, but the content — my archived e-mails, presentations, five-year plans and personal information is priceless. As we become more and more attached to our phones, being able to safeguard that information is going to be where the value is.”
As for the most useful mobile apps, for Gartenberg, there’s more of a gestalt at work. “The killer app is context — knowing what I need at any particular point,” he said. “Until the smartphone came along, you didn’t have choices. Because of contextual reality, you can find the nearest Starbucks. The more applications you can give me, the more problems I can solve.”
Gartenberg’s presentation is embedded below: